• Doug Most

    Assistant VP, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 38 comments on What Is the Future of Masks at BU?

  1. I am sorry to say but if we are almost at 100 % vaccination rate and still masked up now, why is this going to change. It is getting ridiculous. I am not an anticovid crazy, I believe this is real and dangerous, but I also think we need common sense. If the experts say vaccination is the route out then shouldn’t we be put now? I hope there is an easing, God I hope there is, but why ease now if you haven’t yet?

    Signed, Tired of fogging my glasses.

    1. I agree. It’s already difficult to understand what others are saying in English as an international student, as well as to read their emotions, without a mask. With a mask, I miss so much of conversations. It’s much harder and exhausting for me to figure out what people are saying when I can’t read on people’s lips, hear them well, or see their facial expressions. Not to mention it makes me feel very disconnected from everyone emotionally, and it makes it more difficult to make it through a long class.

    2. I understand how this is frustrating, but please remember that some of us are immunocompromised or have immunocompromised family at home — and without boosters being mandated, the vaccination rate at BU is less meaningful than it was earlier in the semester.

      The pandemic isn’t over. I know we’re all sick of masks, but we’re still in a global pandemic, and this is still life or death for some people.

  2. If BU has reliable data on mask effectiveness, it should publish it in a peer-reviewed venue for proper scientific evaluation, as this would be a major breakthrough.

    As of now, the three Randomized Controlled Trials on the matter have not shown an obvious benefit:

    * Danish (DanMask): https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-6817
    * Bangladesh: https://www.poverty-action.org/sites/default/files/publications/Mask_RCT____Symptomatic_Seropositivity_083121.pdf
    * Masks in healthcare settings – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/

    1. These seem to point to the fact that a mask does not protect the wearer from COVID, which I feel is generally understood. My understanding, and studies that I’ve read, indicate that the point of masks is to prevent spread to others, not to act as a shield for the wearer. I regularly attend large off-campus parties with over a hundred students, all unmasked, but I wear masks to class so illnesses that I may contract aren’t spread to the community, like COVID.

    2. These studies seem to indicate that mask-wearing does not protect the user of the mask, which seems to be generally understood. From what I’ve read and understand, the point of masks is to prevent spread to other members of a community, not to act as a shield for the wearer. I attend large, 100+ unmasked person parties regularly, but wear a mask to class to not spread diseases I may contract to fellow students.

      Since we’re still in the throes of the pandemic, it seems fair to require masks, so students like me who are at high risk for spreading COVID don’t infect students who aren’t as high risk.

      1. As a lecturer, I appreciate this perspective. I want students to be able to live their college life outside the classroom and then come to class and not put me or their classmates at risk. Until community case loads are lower we need masks AND vaccination

  3. This was so vague and didn’t answer any actual questions with respect to timeline or tangible policy changes. We know from empirical research that masks do not prevent COVID transmission unless there is also social distancing, something that was abandoned at the very beginning of fall semester. Students are sick and tired of living in this dystopia and are ready for something to change. We already get tested once a week, the strongest factor in preventing COVID transmission. The mask mandates are incredibly performative and exist only to create the illusion of safety – think to any restaurant you enter, where you wear a mask to walk to your table and then immediately take it off.

    1. We actually know from empirical research that masks DO prevent COVID transmission. Masks aren’t performative. And as for restaurants, transmission DOES happen in restaurants — which is why not all of us are comfortable dining out still.

      Please have some compassion for people who could still get very sick or die from COVID. We are still in a pandemic whether you’re sick of taking measures to protect other people or not.

  4. This interview did not provide any real information. After almost 2 years of this pandemic, we just want to know that officials can make concrete decision criteria in advance and what that decision criteria will be, instead of vague statements that we have heard 1000 times before.

    I will continue to mask and enforce masking as long as that is the policy, but after well over a year now of BU masking, all we ask if for some actual transparency. It’s not like COVID can read this article and plot against us if it knew our plans… why the secrecy? Or have we really not been able to figure anything out in all this time?

    1. The reason they can be secretive and not give any information is because staff and students remain compliant with these rules. If we said no more they would be powerless. Stop complying, stop enforcing, and it will stop.

    1. It’s hard to argue with a news piece that doesn’t cite it’s source, but I gather they’re talking about https://www.bmj.com/content/375/bmj-2021-068302.

      This was a meta-analysis, meaning that it tried to pool results from various different studies. If you look at the actual data, the relative risk they found was 47% but with very wide confidence margins (29%-75%), substantial heterogeneity (I^2=84%) and moderate to critical risk bias, significantly from confounding. In other words, it is not at all clear that there is causal relationship between the mask wearing and the reduction in disease.

      If you like meta-analyses, one of the most methodical and comprehensive around is by the Cochrane review (focusing on viral transmission more generally, not just COVID – https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub5/full), who conclude “There is uncertainty about the effects of face masks … There is a need for large, well‐designed RCTs addressing the effectiveness of many of these interventions in multiple settings and populations…”

      1. Well, they did provide a link to their source. And I am awed and humbled at the awesomeness of this objective response from one so steeped in data. But rather than taking such a principled stand, ripping the masks from the sheep, I shall continue to mask as there are plenty of voices advising same, for others’ protection if not my own.

    1. Not quite:

      * DanMask did not find a statistically significant reduction in infection.
      * The Bangladeshi study only found a small significant reduction in those ages 50 and up.
      * The healthcare worker study showed a significant *increase* in virus for cloth masks compared to the *control arm* (with 97% penetration).

    2. Why Bangladesh? BC is just next BU, there is no mask mandate at BC. Why doesn’t BU publish its number and let us to compare it with BC numbers?

      Are you saying BC does not believe in science or are not aware of the so-called benefit of wearing mask (though ARI TRACHTENBERG below shows it not that so-called “benefit” is even significant!).

  5. What would be the reason to stop wearing masks soon, especially when the infection rates in North East are climbing again? Just because people are bored of wearing masks or tired of their glasses getting fogged?

    10-15% of vaccinated individuals land in hospitals after getting infected with Covid. People with risk conditions and elderly, even when vaccinated, are especially at risk. In addition, there is no vaccine available for kids under 5 years old. The fact that small kids are unvaccinated not only results in infection risk but also in frequent quarantines for kids when they are exposed, severely impacting their parents ability to work and function. And studies repeatedly demonstrate that masks are effective in reducing transmission. (You can verify all of these info with simple Google searches…)

    Why would we risk more infections to BU community and their families, just because we are inconvenienced with wearing masks? Covid measures should be relaxed only when the infection rates are much lower in the surrounding neighborhoods and vaccines are available for younger kids.

    1. Last time I checked, BC is also located in North East, and as a matter of fact, it’s just a couple stations further than BU. At BC no one wears mask (of course if you can wear if you want) and there is no weekly tests. So are you saying BC people are killing each other ?

      Just go there see with your eyes! How happy and energetic they are.

      You are more than welcome to wear one, two, three, or whatever number mask you want wear and you are also more than welcome to take 1,2,3,4, or 10 booster shots, but please, for God’s sake, LEAVE US ALONE!

      Thank you.

      P.S.: I insist, go to BC and see how vaccinated, but unmasked people are living and studying happily.

  6. BU’s policy before vaccination:

    Mask and weekly test mandate

    BU’s policy after mandatory vaccination:

    Mask and weekly test mandate

    But let us believe in science!!!

    At Boston College, just a couple station further than BU, no one wears mask and there is no weekly test mandate (there is random one). BC students are doing well and enjoying their life and education! They interact with each other and, I can tell, they seem much happier than students! There is no outbreak and no high rate!

    So, comparing to BU, I guess we would say BC does not believe in science, right?!

    I really would love to hear how BU policy makers who decides about our bodies can explain BC’s policy.

    BU let me to predict the future: BU will double down and will make booster shots mandatory.

    Mark my word!

    1. As my grandfather would say, before you can fix something, you need to measure it. Weekly testing is measuring the magnitude of the problem. It would be nice if BC also did weekly testing so that we could compare the impact of the 2 different policies.

  7. Wearing masks really is ridiculous. I truly believe they are only for show and do not comprehend the benefit, regardless of how many of these “studies” claim that they work. Dr. Platt is never going to free us from them – she loves them too much and thinks we are all supposed to be happy to be wearing one!
    I am fully vaccinated and have neither been sick or nor tested positive for Covid. The only time I ever wear one is when I am indoors in the City of Boston (aka in common spaces on the BU campus) and on the T coming or going from campus. My town and surrounding towns do not have indoor mask mandates and you will not catch me wearing one unless I am here at Boston University. We are supposedly all vaccinated here on campus – masks should be optional for those who wish to wear one. Two years in, no one is going to change my mind, either.

  8. If masking is so important, how come BU Varsity Athletics has no real masking requirements for their practices or competitions? Do they have some sort of special immunity that the rest of us do not? Oh that’s right…they always get special treatment so why wouldn’t they with COVID?

    1. This ^. Dr. Judy Platt should ‘follow the science’ like she claims to do and mandate that all athletes wear masks? And what about masking outdoors? I mean it could protect the community more by .000001%, so why don’t you mandate outdoor masking? Why can hundreds eat in the dining hall without masks but you have to run with a sweaty cloth over your face by yourself at fitrec on the treadmill. Dr. Platt has shown over and over she doesn’t actually care about the science she claims to use for her decision making. Personally, I believe in science. I believe we have DONE OUR PART by have a 95%+ vaccination rates. What more do you want? Come on, Judy.

    2. i completely agree, bob. and how come the rules differ so much for club sports? because we don’t bring money in? let’s be real: how many BU super fans are there really and are they really (properly) wearing a mask at an indoor event? I think not. Teams can host tournaments and compete with no masks but as soon as a club sport (who gets tested weekly and is all fully vaccinated) wants to host more than 1 team at a time, it’s a “risk the program isn’t willing to take”
      BU and the administration needs to take a look and stop being hypocritcal.

  9. I agree that mask wearing for the foreseeable future is ridiculous.

    Look at Haiti. They are overwhelmingly not vaccinated, not wearing masks, and have closed most of their COVID units.

    Common sense should prevail. Sick or symptomatic? Going to a health facility? Other health concerns? By all means, wear a mask.

    But mask mandates are unnecessary.

  10. I think it’s time to put the masks away. Clearly it’s detrimental to the mental and emotionally well being of our kids. It might help prevent the spread of something but it’s not worth it. Our BU son is now a senior. He lost a year + in his education which we paid way too much for. The money means nothing compared to the detrimental effect it had on his mental well being. We appreciate measures need to be taken to prevent the spread of Covid but truth be told these kids suffered way worse. It’s a shame. They lost valuable time at a greater expense. I pray we learned something as a nation. There has to be a better way. And. Now everyone is getting sick because their immune system has been compromised by not being exposed to germs. My heart breaks for these kids. Done with masks and ready to move forward as life should be.

  11. This is such a poorly executed interview.. no information was given and only created more confusion. Every time this question is asked at BU, the answer is pushed off. If faculty really care about the student body’s mental health, then they need to outline a definitive plan of action detailing what needs to happen to ease the mask mandate (ex. Covid cases averaging 10 a week, surveys, etc.). Words will not bring us back to normalcy, only action will.

  12. Honestly, some of these comments are embarrassing coming from the BU community. It makes me embarrassed to see fellow students, as well as staff and parents, arguing that we should stop taking measures to *protect other people.*

    Remember, wearing masks primarily protects others. I am sorry if you are tired of it. I am too. But we are still in a pandemic, and there are still people getting very sick and dying.

    I would hope to see more compassion from classmates and others affiliated with BU. Many of these comments are callous and equate the hardship of having to fog up your glasses or miss facial expressions with the *actual* hardship of severe illness or death.

    Some of us students are actually very grateful for BU’s precautions and proud to be BU students because of the precautions.

  13. Do you wear masks when you hang out with friends and family? Do you wear masks to parties? How about in the dining hall or in restaurants, packed with people eating, drinking and talking? How many of you wear cloth masks, which have been proven not to be effective against the spread of the virus? How many times do you see people wearing masks improperly, just below their nose or under their chin? Do you drink water during class? Are athletes all playing with masks on properly? How about musical groups on campus?

    To say BU’s mask policy is flawed is an understatement. Yet, throughout the pandemic, BU has maintained an extraordinarily low number of cases. Why? It’s most likely not due to the loosely-enforced mask mandates, but rather because of the incredible testing system, isolation protocols, contact tracing, and high vaccination rates.

    We haven’t totally eradicated the virus, but we likely never will. Vaccines are incredibly effective at protecting us from the virus, and once we get vaccinated, we should be able to live our lives mask-free. If people choose to wear a mask in certain places, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we should all have a choice. There was a time when enforcing face coverings was an effective way to control the spread of a virus, but now that we have access to vaccines, the need to wear masks is not so clear.

  14. Funny how Judy Platt, BU’s chief health officer, is wearing a cloth mask when cloth masks have been proven to be ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus. Just shows how little common sense there is here.

  15. Thanks a lot, Judy Platt, for not answering a single question people actually want to know the answer to.

    Is it unreasonable for students at BU to feel like we deserve, at the very least, a timeline for when the mask mandate will end? I beg to differ.

    Telling a student body with a vaccination rate of 95% or more that mandates will “ease gradually” without any clarification is pathetic. It’s a non-answer to the question we care most about. Political authorities have said that things will “ease gradually” for nearly two years now. It’s sickening.

    Keep an open mind for this one:
    Health is important, but priorities overlap. It’s unrealistic and frankly dangerous to make physical health absolutely paramount to other priorities. Happiness, for example, is one of many. To exist is not the same as to live. We need to move on from this paranoid madness and return to normalcy.

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